By Lynn Venhaus
Bold and bravura filmmaking, writer-director Emerald Fennell has crafted a powerful in-your-face rant on toxic masculinity in the #MeToo era.
With a wicked wit and a sharp aim, Fennell exposes how pervasive and casually dismissed sexual assaults are in the guise of “Boys will be boys,” “We were kids,” “Everyone was drunk” and other such well-worn excuses.
Former medical school student Cassie (Carey Mulligan) seeks revenge for her childhood friend’s traumatic experience at a campus party years ago.
Fennell’s impressive debut is matched by Mulligan’s acting tour de force as the driven Cassie.
And the supporting cast is first-rate, with admirable work by Bo Burnham as old classmate turned new love interest, Alfred Molina as a legal shark, Alison Brie as a catty coed, Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge as Cassie’s parents, Laverne Cox as her coffee shop owner boss, Connie Britton as a college dean, and a cadre of nice-guy actors portraying bad boys.
The production elements all build upon each other, with a cheeky soundtrack, shrewd production design by Michael Perry, who contrasts colors to define moods; and outstanding make-up and hair designs.
Bracketed by shocking “Gotcha!” moments, “Promising Young Woman” is a brilliant, timely social commentary that needs to reverberate in the way that “Fatal Attraction” did in 1987, and keep the conversation going.
“Promising Young Woman” is a dark comedy-drama thriller written and directed by Emerald Fennell. Starring Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Laverne Cox and Alfred Molina, it is rated R for strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use, and runs 1 hour, 53 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: A. Opened in theatres on Dec. 23; Video on Demand on Jan. 15.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.